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A New Era of Hope for the World's Most Neglected Diseases

-disease drug projects were under way at the end of 2004. Three-quarters are being conducted by public–private partnerships that often involve multinational or small-scale commercial firms. Twenty new products are already in clinical trials, including half at the phase III or registration stage. Assuming there is sufficient funding, at standard attrition rates these projects would be expected to deliver eight or nine new neglected-disease drugs within the next five years. “The post-2000 renewal of neglected-disease R&D activity is good news for patients with neglected diseases,?writes Moran.

There are even more reasons for optimism. Firstly, many countries affected by neglected diseases, such as Brazil, Egypt, and India, now have the infrastructure to conduct their own neglected-disease research. Morel and colleagues have called these the “innovative developing countries?(Science 309: 401?04), and say they are now reaping the benefits of decades of investment in education, health research infrastructure, and manufacturing capacity. These countries can begin controlling their endemic tropical diseases themselves by developing their own treatments and vaccines with only modest technical or financial assistance from more developed countries.

Secondly, in addition to the expectation that new tools will be developed to control neglected diseases, there is a surge of interest in maximizing the effectiveness of existing tools. This interest focuses on the idea of taking the disparate vertical control programs, each targeting a specific neglected disease, and delivering them in one integrated package. For example, important work is under way to examine the impact of four drugs—albendazole, praziquantel, azithromycin, and ivermectin—in a single delivery mechanism in order to simultaneously target lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, soil-transmitted helminthiases, schistosomiasis, and trachoma (Lancet 365: 1029?030).

Thirdly, and perhaps most imp
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Source:PLoS Medecine


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